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Unitarian Universalist History

Three Prophets of Religious Liberalism

Included here is historian Conrad Wright’s introduction to three critical addresses in the history of Unitarianism: “Unitarian Christianity” by William Ellery Channing, “The Divinity School Address” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and “The Transient and Permanent “in Christianity by Theodore Parker. The series also includes a concise summary of Channing’s historic address.

The Universalist Convention of 1915

One hundred years ago, the United Universalist Conventions met in Pasadena, California, for their 1915 convention. Attendees traveled together to Pasadena by Pullman train from points all across America. Through the generous permission of the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School, HSL has digitized many documents about this historic convention, and hopes that we modern readers might get a taste of the sense of fellowship that permeated this historic gathering.

The Living Legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The Living Legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson” as presented at HSL draws from a series of programs and resource materials developed for the Emerson bicentennial in 2003. The Emerson Bicentennial Committee commissioned an exhibit by Bonnie Hurd Smith that was shown at the 2003 GA, at the UUA headquarters and various congregations, including Shelter Rock. Working with Robert Richardson and Frank Schulman, Smith also produced an exhibit book, which the creators have generously allowed HSL to produce online as “The Living Legacy of RWE” as it appears here. Funding for this exhibit, as well as other events, came from the UUA, the Fund for Unitarian Universalism, the UU Sunday School Society, First & Second Church in Boston, the UU Historical Society, and the Shelter Rock congregation.

The Living Legacy of C. Conrad Wright

In 2011, Harvard Divinity School celebrated the life and legacy of eminent scholar and historian of the Unitarian Universalist tradition, Conrad Wright, with a retrospective conference. Included here are the published versions of talks given at the conference and later published in the Journal of Unitarian Universalist History.

The Church in Harvard Square

This series offers an illustrated history of the First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Cambridge, including pictures and text describing the first three centuries of the church, which was founded in 1636.

Standing Before Us

The Harvard Square Library presents Standing Before Us, a presentation of 160 years of women’s work by Dorothy Emerson. This volume contains letters, essays, stories, poems and speeches by Unitarian and Universalist women, and includes a biographical sketch of each woman and notes on the texts.

Notable American Unitarians Addenda

This addenda to Notable American Unitarians offers 22 biographical portraits of primarily nineteenth-century American Unitarians. They are written by Mark W. Harris, Minister of the historic First Parish in Watertown, Massachusetts, and an advisor to the work of HSL.

Kahlil Gibran and Charles W. Eliot

In 1910, the artist and poet Kahlil Gibran met and drew a picture of Harvard’s President Charles W. Eliot. HSL makes available online an article by Paul M. Wright, editor of the University of Massachusetts Press’s series on “Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book.” The article is notable for its focus on the Harvard President who transformed the college into a prestigious university, and the poet from Lebanon whose works continue to inspire religious liberals today.

Historic Hymnals

HSL is excited to publish online historic hymnals from different eras of Unitarian, Universalist, and liberal religious history. We currently feature two hymnals from the late nineteenth century: Unity Festivals, published by the Western Unitarian Sunday School Society, and Orders of Service for Public Worship, as well as two from the mid-twentieth century, We Sing of Life and We Speak of Life.

Heralds of a Liberal Faith Volumes 1-4

American Unitarian Association President Samuel Atkins Eliot’s opus, Heralds of a Liberal Faith, saw its first three volumes published in 1901 by the AUA, and a fourth volume by Beacon Press in 1951. The full collection offers over 500 biographical sketches of early Unitarian leaders. HSL presents a selection of this original biographical material online.

Great American Events / Universalists

This series of 15 American Universalists offers brief biographies of each figure, as well as a multimedia illustration of a key achievement in that person’s lifetime and in American history as well.

Community Ministry

UU community ministers work in areas of social justice, chaplaincy, authorship and the arts, and educational and institutional leadership. This is ministry beyond the churches – it is community ministry.


Notable in UU History
Madison Congregation

Appendix: Unitarian Society of Madison

What follows is an edited abridgment of a booklet published about 1961 for visitors to the ... Read More
Mary Safford

Notable American Unitarians: Religion – Mary Safford

Mary Safford, 1851-1927 by Sarah Oelberg Around 1900, a joke was making the rounds in Unitarian ... Read More

Maclean, Angus Hector (1892-1969)

A principal Universalist educator in the twentieth century, MacLean was born on Cape Breton Island, Nova ... Read More
Jerome Kagan

Jerome Kagan

Jerome Kagan is the Daniel and Amy Starch Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Professor Kagan’s ... Read More